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Working Parents, Want More Time With Family? There's a Law for That!

Working parents might be able to breathe a little easier the next time they need to take time off of work to make it to their kid’s soccer game, thanks to The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013.

family flexibility act 2013

(Photo Credit: Kamaljith/Flickr)

Juggling work and children is a constant battle that many working parents face on a daily basis. Whether it be an afterschool game or a doctor’s appointment, the working moms and dads of the world have to make the tough decision of taking unpaid time off from work, or missing out on their child’s activities.

Luckily, on May 8, 2013, The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1406) was passed to “help American workers (in the private sector) better balance the needs of family and the workplace” by “allow employers to offer private-sector employees the choice of paid time off in lieu of cash wages for overtime hours worked,” according to the Education and the Workforce Committee. The days of feeling guilty about missing little Jimmy’s baseball game may very well be over.

What exactly does The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 do for private-sector working parents? Here are four ways that the new legislation will allow parents to spend quality, guilt-free (and paid) time with their families:

1. Allow employers to offer employees a choice between cash wages and comp time for overtime hours worked. Employees who want to receive cash wages would continue to do so. No employee can be forced to take comp time instead of receiving overtime pay.

2. Protect employees by requiring the employer and the employee to complete a written agreement to use comp time, entered into knowingly and voluntarily by the employee. Where the employee is represented by a union, the agreement to take comp time must be part of the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the union and the employer.

3. Retain all existing employee protections in current law, including the 40-hour workweek and how overtime compensation is accrued. The bill adds additional safeguards for workers to ensure the choice and use of comp time are truly voluntary.

4. Allow employees to accrue up to 160 hours of comp time each year.  An employer would be required to pay cash wages for any unused time at the end of the year. Workers are free to "cash out" their accrued comp time whenever they choose to do so.

(Source: Education & The Workforce Committee Website)

It appears that San Francisco is also jumping on the workplace flexibility bandwagon, with the San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance. According to Huffington Post, this new ordinance, effective January 1, 2014, will allow working parents and caregivers the “right to request special arrangements, such as a change in start times, part-time and part-year schedules, telecommuting and schedule predictability, allowing for workers with dependents to make caregiving arrangements with enough advance notice.” 

This is great news for working parents who have been struggling to find work-life balance in their everyday lives, especially with the rising number of mothers in the workforce in recent decades. A recent Pew Research Center study found that "about three-quarters of adults (74 percent) say the increasing number of women working for pay has made it harder for parents to raise children, and half say that it has made marriages harder to succeed." It’s not rocket science -- parents are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Therefore, laws that make it easier for working parents to better manage their careers and their families (oh, and maintaining happy marriages) are absolutely beneficial for employees and employers. Many people think that “if you give a mouse a crumb, he’ll take the whole cookie jar” when it comes to granting employees certain freedoms, but studies show that happy employees equal less sick time, less turnover, and higher productivity. You do the math.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your thoughts or concerns about laws that grant flexibility to working parents? Share your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below.

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